It’s a long time since I’ve seen a blockbuster as quiet as ‘Gravity’. Usually the word blockbuster is screamed at you and accompanied by a vast array of explosions which successfully ‘raise the stakes’ on some bullshit or other, before a very, very, very big explosion ends the proceedings.
By contrast, Gravity has a cast of three, one of who is not involved in the plot for long, and takes place out in the endless silence of space.
The plot is simple. Astronauts, Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Kowalsky (George Clooney) are left floating in space after flying debris destroys their space station.
Their only hope is to reach a Russian space station before Stone’s oxygen runs out.
Through minimal dialogue we begin to learn about these two people.
Stone is a space newbie and is the audience’s entry point into this alien world
Kowalsky is an old hand who is on his last mission and acts as our guide through this dark but beautiful universe.
Like all great films, Gravity operates on several levels. On the one hand it’s a straight ahead thriller on the other it’s a tale of rebirth and redemption through the character of Stone.
She is a woman crippled by the loss of her child in a tragic accident. Unable to move forward she drifts through life unable to really move forward in any meaningful way. Not to be too crass about it but the image of her floating untethered in space completely lost and reliant on Kowlasky to save her reflects in her inner life.
Only through crisis does she suddenly find within herself the power to forgive herself and live.
One other point of interest was the naming of Clooney’s character Kowalsky ( with an i) was both the name of Brando’s character in ‘On the Waterfront’ and Barry Nelson’s character in the classic car movie ‘Vanishing point’.
These rebels are peculiarly American in style and feel but are also largely forgotten, so in a sense the relationship between Kowalsky and Stone is one of the past reaching out to help the present. Conjecture I know but fun to think about.
Whatever in the outs of the film and it’s meaning, this beautifully shot and shows there are plenty of people who believe that entertainment doesn’t have to appeal only to those who like to see shit explode repeatedly.